Markel's 2009 Mock Draft

By Markel Johnson Updated 1 April 09

1. Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford QB, Georgia

Some of the smart money is starting to go on Jason Smith here. But three things, a bad economy, a worse football team and an even worse crop of QB’s, will prevent that. The Lions could take a LT here only if they planned on acquiring a signal caller later in the draft. The Browns used that tactic to land Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn. The Dolphins accomplished it last year, grabbing Jake Long and Chad Henne.

Both Thomas in Cleveland and Long in Miami earned pro Bowl honors as rookies so you could say the gamble worked. The problem this year is that there is zero depth at QB. None. Nan. Nada. After Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman, there might not be another QB selected until the 4th or 5th round.

Obviously, any team in need of a QB will have to pull the trigger early. The idea that the Lions could pass on a QB, and still pick one up later in the first or early in the second as Cleveland and Miami did, is dubious at best. With Jay Cutler now in Chicago, I cant see the Lion front office leaving Stafford on the board, their fans in the lurch, and their necks in the guillotine if they pass on Stafford and he becomes a good player elsewhere.

2. St Louis Rams- Jason Smith OT, Baylor

When Steven Jackson is healthy, and Matt Bulger is well protected, the Rams offense is actually pretty good. St. Louis will have to find a wideout or two later in the draft, but protecting Bulger’s noodle should be priority number one. Smith would allow Alex Barron to remain at RT, where he has played well, and he immediately plugs the hole left by the departure of Orlando Pace. Smith is not a mauling, 330 pound behemoth, but he has excellent quickness and footwork, and he should be able to handle even the fastest NFL edge rushers.

3. Kansas City Chiefs- Eugene Monroe OT, Virginia

90% of the mocks I’ve seen have Aaron Curry going in this spot, but 20+ million guaranteed is a lot of dough to shell out for a LB, especially a 3-4 guy who‘s not billed as an elite pass rusher. On the other hand, selecting Monroe, the 1B tackle in this draft, would give the Chiefs one of the best tackle tandems in the league for the next ten years. BJ Raji is another option, as neither Tank Tyler nor Glen Dorsey are 0 technique defensive tackles. Dorsey has enough quickness to perhaps play DE, and Tyler could make a good backup NT, if it came to that. I’m not saying that Curry is a bad pick, but its not a lock, and I think Monroe provides the best bang for the buck at the three spot.

4. Seattle Seahawks- Aaron Curry OLB, Wake Forest

Julian Peterson was traded to the Lion Cubs, and Leroy Hill is a potential holdout after being unceremoniously franchised. That leaves Lofa Tatupu a lonely man in the middle of the Seabird LB corps.. Aaron Curry’s arrival could alleviate the loss of Peterson, and if Hill decides to join the squad at some point, Seattle could boast one of the better line backing trios in the entire league. The Seahawks are reportedly interested in Mark Sanchez. I could be wrong, but I think they’re running the same game as the Jaguars, trying to entice a team to trade up for him. Sanchez has no chance of starting in Seattle, so I don’t see the Seabirds paying him top 4 money.

5. Cleveland Browns- Brian Orakpo DE/OLB, Texas

Now that Shaun Rogers seems to be back on the reservation, the BJ Raji option looks less likely Orakpo certainly looks the part, and he ran circles around Phil Loadholt in the Oklahoma game. His technique is raw, which may actually have helped push him ahead of Everette Brown, who is more refined but has a lower ceiling. After his Jets experience (Vernon Gholston), Mangini may be looking for a player who can contribute right away. His job is safe in Cleveland though, so he can afford to work Orakpo in slowly if it becomes necessary. If B.O. pans out, we’ll be hearing about “Oraknophobia” the fear of being sacked, for a long time to come.

6. Cincinnati Bengals- BJ Raji DT, Boston College

After watching his center get beat up on a weekly basis last year, 2009 could be the year that Marvin Lewis gets a little retribution With the top two tackles off of the board, the Bengals will look to beef up their defensive front with Raji, who is in my opinion, the top defensive prospect in this years draft. Raji combines NT size with DE speed and quickness. I’d bet there are some 3-4 teams salivating over Raji, and one of them may even trade up for this behemoth. If not, the Bengal Cubs will be happy to have him.

7. Oakland Raiders- Jeremy Maclin WR, Missouri

Rocket Armed QB. Speed burner receiver. It’s a match made in Uncle Al Heaven. Maclin can return kicks and stretch the field early, and learn to run routes and read coverage as he goes. If Maclin can improve his route running, he projects as a Marvin Harrison type threat. With Jamarcus Russell’s arm and Maclin’s speed, teams will be hard pressed to stack the box to stop the Raider running game. Huggybear Jr and Darren McFadden should find the running lanes less crowded than they did last year, when the Reeaayadiz struggled to move the ball on the ground.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars- Vontae Davis CB, Illinois

The Jaguars are telling anyone who will listen that they’re set on taking Mark Sanchez. Translation: We’d really like to trade down with any team looking to draft Sanchez. After sitting out the free agency period with the exception of Tra Thomas, Del Rio cant afford to use his last best chance to improve his team on a developmental player. And he certainly wont run the risk of starting Sanchez, who has just one season of starting experience on the college level, and would be arriving to a team woefully lacking talent at the WR position.

Davis fills the glaring hole left by the un-dearly departed Drayton Florence, who fleeced the Jags for a big time bonus before failing miserably as a corner last year. The Jags could go WR here, but Del Rio is a run now run later head coach, and I think GM Gene Smith will go after receiver help later in the draft. Davis has the size and the speed to play the tight man coverage, which the Jags run a lot of. Because of that, I think he’ll go ahead of Malcolm Jenkins, even though Jenkins is rated higher on most boards.

9. Green Bay Packers- Tyson Jackson DE, LSU

BJ Raji is gone, so Green Bay GM Ted Thompson will look elsewhere in his bid to switch to the 3-4. Tyson Jackson is the premier 5 technique in the draft, and while there are flashier players still left on the board, Jackson’s unique skill set will make him a hot commodity. With Justin Harrell at one DE, and TJ at the other, the Packers will have

2/3 of their front line set. Ryan Pickett is the nose tackle as of now, but the Pack should be looking for another one later in the draft. Everette Brown is a possibility here, but Jackson has more value in my opinion because he can step in and contribute right away.

Waiting around while a guy like Brown learns his position isn’t something teams have a stomach for, especially when they’re doling out top ten bonuses and salaries to get him . A rookie cap could fix that, duh Goodell, but I’m sticking to my promise to stay off of the soap box.

10. San Francisco 49ers- Andre Smith T, Alabama

The 49ers signed “Captain” Marvel Smith to man the right tackle spot, but they could still use a dominant bookend T. All bra jokes aside, Smith fit’s the bill quite nicely. He’s a monster in the run game, and he’s a very big guy, two qualities that should endear him to 49er GM and Ron Wolf protégé Scott McGloughan. Mike Singletary’s no nonsense style should keep Smith in line, and if he plays to his potential, he’ll be a pro bowl caliber LT in no time. I’m sure Nick Saban is anxiously awaiting Smith’s selection, so he can add him to his recruiter’s talking points. If he hasn’t already.

11. Buffalo Bills- Everette Brown DE, Florida St.

Looks like Lil Freeney made it out of Tallahassee just in time to avoid the NCAA smack down. Good for him. And what a circus Florida State has become. Size wise, Brown is closer to fellow Colt Robert Mathis, but his pass rush technique is closer to Freeney’s and he’s a great blend of need and value at pick 11. Draftniks want to turn EB into a 3-4 guy, but he has zero experience in coverage, and wasn’t asked to play the run much either as a athlete-student. In order to maximize his production, Brown should be allowed to do what he does

best: attack the QB. Using him as an OLB would cancel out his strengths and expose his weaknesses, so I hope for his sake he goes to a 4-3 team. The Bills are known for having smallish ends and I’ve seen Aaron Maybin (who’s even smaller than EB) in this slot more than once. Unfortunately for the Maybin to Bills guys, Dick Jauron and company don’t have the luxury of job security, so I doubt they’ll be selecting anyone that needs extensive grooming.

12. Denver Broncos- Mark Sanchez QB, USC

I’m not a Broncos fan, but I was rooting for Josh McDaniels to succeed because he’s a young guy, and I’d like to see the “needs plenty of experience” stereotype for Head Coaches to be put to rest once and for all. Unfortunately, McDaniels seems to be suffering from a bad case of overconfidence. Matt Cassel had a great year. But he was throwing to Randy Moss and Wes Welker, which by NFL standards, isn’t very difficult to do. His 89.4% passer rating was impressive, though it was dwarfed by Chad Pennington’s 97.4. And regardless of how well Cassel played, he didn’t do enough to convince anyone, especially the Broncos fan base, that Jay Cutler was expendable. McDaniels’ desire to trade Cutler stems not from his confidence in Cassel, but from his confidence in himself. McDaniels thinks he can turn any decent QB into a 89.4 type of guy. Maybe so, though I’d suggest he do it fast.

Bronco nation is wondering why their two time Super Bowl winning coach and their 25 year old franchise QB have been replaced by a 32 year old rookie they’ve never heard of and Kyle Orton. Their patience will be razor, and I mean razor, thin. Other than bringing back John Elway, (who I hear is asking for 50 million guaranteed) drafting Mark Sanchez may be the best option for buying McDangerfield a little time. Sanchez doesn’t have Stafford’s arm strength or starting experience, but in my opinion, he’s still the more polished quarterback. While Stafford relied on his howitzer arm in college, Sanchez used excellent footwork, downfield vision, and superior accuracy to make plays for the Trojans. According to Peter Carroll, Sanchez is further along in terms of pre/post snap reads and audibles than either Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart were as seniors. Those are the kinds of skills that lead to success on the next level, and its why I have Sanchez as the number QB in the draft, draft position notwithstanding.

13. Washington Redskins- Michael Oher OT, Mississippi

Poor Jason Campbell. Chris Samuels is old, John Jansen is garbage, and Stephon Heyer is better suited to play the RT position. Campbell will have to take on more of the offensive burden this year to protect Clinton Portis from being overused and ineffective by the latter part of the year, as he was in 2008. The Skins would probably love to trade this pick, but if they can’t, I cant see how they can justify not grabbing the top T on the board. Knowing Dan Snyder, this could be Michael Johnson, who would see a lot of one on match-ups as teams focus on Albert Haynesworth.

14. New Orleans Saints- Clay Matthews OLB, USC

Sorry to all the Beanie fans. But it makes no sense to spend a 1st round pick on a change of pace back. Not when you already have (highly paid) Reggie Bush and a dependable back up in Pierre Thomas. Rashad Jennings or another mid to late round pick can fill that Deuce McAllister role just fine. Malcolm Jenkins is a possibility, but Tracy Porter-Jabari Greer-Jason David at CB worries me a lot less than Jonathan Vilma and the sorry Scotts (Fujita and Shanle) at LB. Dan Morgan? That signing wreaks of desperation. Matthews is a low ceiling-high floor guy that has excellent blood lines, work ethic, and versatility. He can step in and be a full time starter right away on the strong side, so he carries more value to the Saints than either Jenkins or Wells in my opinion.

15. Houston Texans- Malcolm Jenkins CB/FS, Ohio St.

The Texas have spent the off-season beefing up their defensive and line and line backing corps. Now they will begin to upgrade their leaky secondary. Malcolm Jenkins is no Sean Springs, but he can be a solid contributor as a corner and has the size and ball skills to slide back to the FS position if needed to. I don’t think Houston will hesitate to grab him if he’s available.

16. San Diego Chargers- Rey Maualuga ILB, USC

Ideally, the Chargers would like to trade this pick, but if they cant, Maualuga offers them solid value in the middle of the first. Former Gator standout Brandon Siler is set to take over in the middle for the Chargers, and Maualuga would make an excellent tag team partner. Chargers GM AJ Smith has been known to swing for the fences with his early picks, with L.T., Cromartie, Merriman, Rivers (via Eli Manning), Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer all becoming solid producers early on in their careers. I believe Maualuga can join that impressive list, and while ILB is not a pressing need for the Bolts, he may be too good to pass up.

17. New York Jets- Michael Crabtree WR, Texas Tech

Why is Crabtree so far down the list? I just don’t believe that he will have the kind of immediate impact that most are expecting. He doesn’t have elite size, speed, quickness, leaping ability, route running or ball skills. He is good in all of those areas, but he is not great in any of them. He didn’t run a 40 at the combine, and oh yeah, he’s coming off of foot surgery and will miss a significant amount of practice time as he rehabs. Despite all of that, Crabtree could still be the best WR on the field by opening day in NY. Jericho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey, and Brad Smith are currently the top three WRs on the Jets roster. None of them stretch the field, none of them are good red zone targets, and Cotchery is the only one that can consistently do the dirty work over the middle. Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge are all young and inexperienced. Thomas Jones is on the wrong side of thirty, and Leon Washington is not an every down back. Add in an average offensive line and you have all the ingredients necessary for a horrifically bad offense. The Bi-planes could struggle to stay on the field, much less score points, and their defense would be asked to do way too much on a week in and week out basis. They’d probably collapse by the end of the season, especially Kris Jenkins. Rex Ryan is a defensive guy to the core, but he cant afford to take the field with the offense he has right now. Crabtree isn’t my favorite WR but I think he can bring some much needed firepower to the Jets offense.

18. Denver Broncos- Brian Cushing LB, USC

The Broncos have bigger needs along the D line so if there‘s a player they really like at that spot, like Michael Johnson or Robert Ayers, they may be the pick. Cushing is the choice for now because he can play either inside or outside and DJ Williams is not going to make a living taking on 320 pound guards. Sliding Williams to the weak side should prevent him from suffering the same fate that fellow Hurricane Jonathan Vilma suffered when the Jets switched to a 3-4 under Eric Mangini.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Peria Jerry DT, Mississippi

The Bucs defense was horrible towards the end of last year, especially against the run. It seemed like the stop unit’s desire to play left along with Monte Kiffin, and John Gruden was predictably canned as a result. With Michael Turner, Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in their division, the Bucs will need to upgrade their interior d line in a hurry. Jerry is more of a penetrator than a block absorber, but so was Warren Sapp, and he worked out just fine.

20. Detroit Lions- Eben Britton OT, Arizona

The Lions go with the Falcons 08 model instead of the Dolphins 08 model, taking Britton at 20. Jeff Backus is a better guard than he is a T, and this pick could allow him to slide inside to his natural position.

21. Philadelphia Eagles- Brandon Pettigrew TE, Oklahoma St.

Pettigrew adds two birds with one stone because he can both move the line of scrimmage on the edge, and serve as a big, reliable target for a team that sorely lacks big targets in the passing game. Brent Celek filled in nicely last year, but without a go to guy on the outside to draw away coverage, he shouldn’t be relied upon as a target. OT and WR are needs as well, but those positions don’t offer as much value to Andy Reid’s squad as Pettigrew does.

22. Minnesota Vikings- Kenny Britt WR, Rutgers

The clock is ticking on Brad Childress. With Tavaris Jackson out and Sage “Superfly” Rosenfels in, he’s all out of excuses and it’ll be put up or shut up time in 2009. Britt isn’t the sexiest of the remaining WRs but he projects as a solid possession guy who can run slants, digs, comebacks etc and make easy catches against the single coverage he’ll be seeing on EVERY play. Britt displays excellent run after the catch ability, he wont fall to the ground voluntarily, nor will a shove or arm tackle do the trick. When teams blitz, they’ll need a safety over the top, or a great tackling corner on him to prevent a big play. Safeties help is usually in short supply vs. Adrian Peterson, so Britt has the potential to cause a lot of problems for opposing teams.

23. New England Patriots- Connor Barwin OLB, Cincinnati

With their CB problems addressed via free agency The Pats can use the draft to reinforce their front seven (The Old and the Dutiful), especially the LB corps. Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi+ should not be playing for any team that has championship aspirations. With the amount of picks the they have, the Red Coats can realistically choose a player at any position, but I think reinforcing their pass rushing and pass protection units will be the top priority. Barwin has drawn favorable comparisons to the recently departed Mike Vrabel. He has the size/strength to play over the TE in the run game and the quickness to drop into zone or man coverage in the pass game. Barwin’s speed will also allow him to threaten the pass pro challenged RTs in the league, a guy like Damien Woody comes to mind. Barwin played TE in college, and he can be an effective pass catcher and/or run blocker in the Pats goal line package. That added value could push him into the bottom of the first round and it should put him squarely in the sights of a guy like Bill Belichick.

24. Atlanta Falcons- Darius Butler CB, Connecticut

LB, CB, S and DL are all positions where the Falcons are looking for starters. Of the players at those positions, I believe Butler offers the highest value. Other options include Ziggy Hood and Robert Ayers, both of whom could start on day one for the Black Birds. Butler’s 0 INT’s last year is a concern, but he wasn’t thrown at much either. Somehow, I don’t think inactivity to be a problem for him in the NFL.

25. Miami Dolphins- Jarron Gilbert DE, SJSU

Surprised? Well, let me explain. Jarron Gilbert is a defensive end who runs a 4.68 forty. That’s faster than Larry English, Clint Stintim, or Cody Brown. He’s 6’5” 298 lbs, that’s taller and heavier than Tyson Jackson. He ran the shuttle in 4.56 seconds, just .03 slower than Everette Brown. The quickest (smallest) DE in the draft, Aaron Maybin, ran the shuttle in 7.52. Gilbert, the 300 pounder, ran it in 7.70. He’s a rare physical specimen, the one who’s now famous for jumping out of a pool on you tube. This is a player who’s capable of holding his own at not only DE, but at OLB or DT as well. When was the last time you saw a player who fit that description? Dolfans and local media types want to see a CB or WR here. I admit it’s a reach in terms of his college production. But if Gilbert pans out, he can be a player that every opposing coordinator has to game plan for. Bill Parcells is on a never ending mission to find the next Lawrence Taylor, so don’t be surprised if Gilbert becomes the drafts first “excuse me” pick.

26. Baltimore Ravens- Alphonso Smith CB, Wake Forest

Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are gone, and I’m not sold on Dominique Foxworth and Chris Carr as their replacements. Smith could be a day one starter for the Ravens, who have plenty of holes to fill on the defense. The Raven fans are screaming for Darrius Heyward Bey, but this draft if full of good WRs so spending a top pick on a “maybe-maybe not” type player at that position isn’t wise. Alphonso Smith wont need a year or two to learn the game before he’s able to contribute, if not as a starter, then certainly as the nickel. That’s enough for me to rank him higher than DHB or Percy Harvin, though I wouldn’t have a problem with Hakeem Nicks going at this point.

27. Indianapolis Colts- Alex Mack C, California

The Colts run defense has been a running joke for years, but it was surpassed in its ineffectiveness by the offense’s abominable run game last year. The Colts ranked 31st in rushing, 24th in run defense, and still managed to win 12 games. Unbelievable. Evander Hood would be good fit here, but the Colts need help on both sides of the line, and Mack is the better player. Oh by the way, Mack might be the best guard in this draft as well as center.

28. Philadelphia Eagles- Knowshon Moreno RB, Georgia

Its too early for an OT, but don’t be surprised if Andy Reid reaches for one because there‘s no telling what scraps will be left by the time Philly picks again. Reid is notorious for not using resources on the RB position, but the annual wear down/breakdown of Brian Westbrook has become comical,. Back-up Correll Buckhalter is gone and Lorenzo Booker is not what you’re looking for in a reserve. Moreno doesn’t have straight line speed, but his elusiveness and toughness will make him a big play threat nonetheless. He is a five tool back who can come in, even start right way, and he’s a steal at pick 28.

29. New York Giants- Hakeem Nicks WR, North Carolina

I hope Roger Goodell takes it easy on Plaxico Burress. If being shot, put in jail, and fired hasn’t changed his view on things, then a couple games suspension wont do much either. Hakeem Nicks has good size and route running skills, and he should be able to contribute early on, unlike most of the other receiver prospects in this draft.

The Giants O fell apart once teams realized that Domenik Hixon, Amani Toomer and company couldn’t hurt them last year so an upgrade at wideout is a no brainer. Nicks isn’t a burner, but he’s a big, physical target, who can consistently turn short completions into long gains.

30. Tennessee Titans- Evander Hood DT, Missouri

Jeff Fisher is another win in the trenches type guy. And he just parted ways with perhaps the most dominant DL in the game. Evander Hood is no Albert Haynesworth. But he wont cost 115 million dollars, either. A CB to replace the aging Nick Harper and the Baltimore bound Chris Carr is a possibility as well.

31. Arizona Cardinals- Michael Johnson DE/OLB Georgia Tech

Some coaches demand 110% on every play. Michael Johnson probably wont be playing for them. But for coaches who take a more pragmatic approach, Johnson is an intriguing prospect. Like WR or RB, a DE can change an entire game on one snap, and Johnson has the ability to create havoc on any play. When Johnson faced top 5 pick Eugene Monroe this year, he was a non factor for three quarters. But in the fourth he registered a sack, a forced fumble, two tackles for loss, and forced two fall starts (by Monroe), showing that he could take over the game, even against the stiffest competition. His size, speed and athleticism are off the charge. He has the quickness to drop into coverage, with long arms fill pass lanes on the rush, and the hands to pick off an occasional pass. Johnson has Julius Peppers size and talent, but he has Peppers’ “I’ll play when I feel like it” mentality as well.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers- Aaron Maybin DE/OLB, Penn St.

The Champs are already loaded with Harrison, Woodley, Foote and Timmons, but Maybin is a potential phenom who could learn from the best for a year or two before being unleashed onto the helpless entities that pass for AFC North offensive units. Don’t forget, Harrison is going to want a huge raise soon, and the Steelers are known for low balling their linebackers. Porter. Greg Lloyd. Kevin Greene. Levon Kirkland. I wasn’t around, but they probably low balled Jack Lambert too. Did I mention Maybin was only 20? That means he’ll only be 24-25 when his first contract expires, so the Steelers wont have to lowball him for being too close to thirty.

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